“So what brought you to Jackson?” is the million-dollar question in town. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who claims to be from Jackson originally; nearly everyone came here from somewhere else, leaving places and people behind. And most people, it seems, never return to the homes they once left, because they find a new place to call home here in Jackson.
“I’m here because I’m interning with the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce,” I say, followed by, “I’m only here for the summer.” They laugh and usually say something along the lines of, “I said the same thing when I came here seven summers ago.” Or 11, or 19, or 25, or 43. People love it here, there’s no denying that. They come for a short-term stay landing odd jobs, and then never leave. That’s how magical this unique and beautiful ski town is.
And at the center of it all, is the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce. A chamber of commerce, in case you were wondering (because I was, promptly after accepting this internship), is a local organization of businesses seeking to further their own collective interests while bettering the community. Through protecting and promoting its businesses’ economic interests, the Chamber aims to improve the city’s economic, civic, and cultural wellbeing. Which means that even my mere intern role and tasks have a positive effect on this community that I’ve already come to love. How cool is that?
Let me briefly introduce myself.
But I’m getting ahead. Let me briefly introduce myself. I'm a St. Louis native but spent five years of my adolescence growing up in Heidelberg, Germany, an experience that contributed significantly to my strong appreciation of travel and desire to see the world. For the past three years I’ve been inhabiting the quirky little city of Lawrence while attending the University of Kansas, where I’ll be a senior this fall. This past spring I spent the semester abroad in Salamanca, Spain, studying Spanish and exploring Europe. And of course, currently I am living in here in Jackson gaining valuable professional experience at the Chamber, working at The Blue Lion and Jackson Hole Health & Fitness in attempt to replenish my wallet, and enjoying the beautiful Tetons through my newfound love for trail running, amongst other activities. I’m double majoring in Strategic Communications and Global & International Studies and minoring in Spanish. There are few things I love more than good coffee, breakfast, spontaneous adventures, the kind of books you can't put down until you're finished reading, and crunchy peanut butter. That’s me in a nutshell, folks.
Throughout my short time here, I will be keeping this blog to update whoever happens to be interested in how I spend my days learning at the Chamber and living in Jackson. I’ll try my best to keep it interesting.
My first week in Jackson was a whirlwind that consisted of me nailing down my two jobs to supplement this internship (the post-abroad broke college life is so real) and growing accustomed to the altitude here as I struggled to go on daily runs or hikes. Transitioning from a 465’ elevation to 6,237’ is no joke, people. (The first time I did Josie’s Ridge, I truly thought I was dying.) A few weeks in, I’m now better accustomed (and in better shape) and absolutely love biking to work with Snow King towering behind me and spending any portion of my day outside and on the trails.
Learn about Chamber Events and Networking Opportunities.
My first experience with the Chamber involved volunteering at Jackson Hole’s 37th Annual Old West Days, a weekend festival celebrating Western culture. A town commonly referred to and proudly self-proclaimed as “the last of the Old West,” the weekend consisted of the summer rodeo kickoff, stagecoach rides, shootouts, lots of cowboy boots stomping through town, and of course live music and lots of local craft beer. I worked at the Chamber’s info booth on Saturday and mostly answered questions that I initially didn’t know the answer to, but by the end of the day I was considerably more well-informed and hopefully everyone else was too. The following Thursday was my first real day on the job, in which I attended my first Business over Breakfast (BOB), where members of the Chamber meet over breakfast to discuss issues and events for the upcoming month. Sitting in on this meeting was my first real taste of the ~business world~ so even though it was at 7:30am, I found it very interesting and was glad to be there (plus, I believe that it is impossible not to enjoy anything involving breakfast).
As my fourth week in Jackson and third at the Chamber comes to a close, I’ve developed a more regular schedule, in which I work at the Chamber on Monday, Thursday, & Friday. My days are always versatile, which I love. My direct supervisor/head of the internship program is Casey Carroll, IOM, Director of Projects & Operations; she is awesome. Some days I work with her, others I’ve spent learning the secrets of Visitor Services with Justin Walters. Recently I’ve been working with Kate Foster, the Chamber’s Communications Manager, on this blog project. I also enjoy chatting with Elizabeth Rohrbach, the newly appointed Director of Membership, and hope to assist her in some membership retention initiatives as the summer continues.
The Chamber is full of fun stuff too. During lunch breaks Casey and I go trail running. Thursday evenings are Chamber Mixers, where a Chamber member holds a networking event at their business, consisting of food and drinks in addition to raffles/business opportunities. The other Chamber intern, Linnea, and I help by making sure everyone signs in and try to meet as many people as we can. My first mixer was last Thursday at Pursue Movement Studio and I bought a month of unlimited classes, even though I already have a free gym membership. Whoops. On Tuesday I attended (and bartended at) Green Drinks JH, an informal event sponsored by the Chamber and held every few months, where people meet up and talk about the environment over cocktails. What’s not to like about that?
Already, everywhere I go I’m starting to recognize more and more people, and even crazier, people are starting to recognize me. I’ve had nothing but good experiences here at the Chamber so far, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of my summer in Jackson holds. Check back in next week to see what I’ve been up to!
Tanya, the Intern
Main Photo: Josie's Ridge on Snow King Mountain
Second Photo: Tanya with fellow intern Linnea Peacock
Third Photo: Tanya helping with Green Drinks JH.